Artist alumni flock to Florence as Studio Art Centers International (SACI) celebrates its first 40 years!

SACI's Palazzo dei Cartelloni, Florence, Italy

SACI’s Palazzo dei Cartelloni, Via Sant’Antonino, 11, Florence, Italy

SACI 40th anniversaryMore than 10,000 aspiring artists have passed through the doors of Studio Art Centers International (SACI) an American college level studio art program founded in Florence, Italy in 1975.  Now legions of illustrious SACI alumni—including performance art power couple Jennifer Allora & Guilliermo Calzadilla, who met at SACI in 1995—are flocking to this year’s April 24 commencement ceremonies, when the school will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

“I didn’t have a master plan when I came here” says SACI founder and Director Emeritus, Jules Maidoff, who abandoned a career as a successful commercial artist to create an art school in the city where he’d once lived as a Fulbright scholar. “I just knew there was a need for this type of education—a challenging program in studio art offered in a place where the past comes alive.”

#saciat40In its first four decades, SACI saw annual enrollment grow from fourteen students to more than 500. Classes once held in makeshift facilities now take place in two restored Florentine Renaissance palaces wholly owned by the school.  SACI counts alumni all over the world, including celebrated artists, sculptors, fashion designers, Oscar-nominated filmmakers, art conservators, and college art instructors.

David Hockney, Audrey Flack, Elio FIorucci

David Hockney, Audrey Flack, Elio FIorucci

At SACI, students still study traditional technique like marble cutting, gilding, and egg tempera. But the school also offers courses in installation and performance art, and in cutting edge technologies like animation, web design and infographics. Scores of art world notables including David Hockney, Audrey Flack, and designer Elio Fiorucci have conducted classes and seminars there.  “One of our tasks at SACI is to provide a haven where artists can actually be artists,” says Mary Beckinsale, a British art historian and SACI’s President Emeritus. “We believe the artist should be an informed intellectual, and not merely a skilled craftsman.”

Sala Luca Giornad, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Sala Luca Giordano, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence, where SACI’s MFA commencement takes place on April 24, 2015

The April 24th commencement will be held in the Sala Luca Giordano in Florence’s Palazzo Medici Riccardi, during which the school will award its first eight two-year MFA Studio Art degrees. SACI is the only accredited U.S. institution in Europe that offers a two-year MFA degree in Studio Art. Artist Lawrence Carroll will deliver the keynote address. Elizabeth Sackler, PhD, Chair of the Board of the Brooklyn Museum and SACI alumna, will receive an honorary degree.  “This commencement is a celebration of an utterly unique school,” says David Davidson, Dean at SACI since 2001. “And I believe SACI will continue to grow in size and stature and be increasingly recognized as the preeminent US art school abroad.”

For more information and a schedule of events, see the SACI website:
Alumni Reunion – SACI Celebrates 40 Years

SACI logo

About SACI

SACI is a US non-profit College of Art and Design in Florence, Italy, for undergraduate and graduate students seeking accredited instruction in studio art, design, conservation, art history, and Italian language and culture. Founded in 1975, SACI offers the following programs: Academic Semester/Year Abroad, Summer Studies, Venice Summer Program, Post-Bac in Conservation, MFA in Studio Art, MA in Art History.


  1. I will not be able to make the trip to attend this landmark 40th anniversary celebration, but as one of SACI’s earliest alums (1975) I would like to say I still cherish my memories of student life in Florence and Pian di’ Sco and wish Jules Maidoff and his dedicated colleagues the very, very best! What an accomplishment! I am proud to have been a tiny part of the genesis of such a fine idea and am especially happy to have reconnected with Jules after so many years. I toast Jules and everyone at SACI! –Jay Tracy, Portland, Oregon (SACI 1975)

    • Jay, we are delighted you had such a wonderful experience at SACI and will miss seeing you at the 40th Anniversary Alumni Reunion. Thank you for your kind words. Do come back for a visit to Florence and SACI soon! Best wishes to you.

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